She says she aches for me, like down inside of her, like where the winds howl and we moan.

And I tell her that there are pots on the stove and crumbs on the counters and yes, wherever we are, there’s always hard things howling through the rhythms of the cooking, the washing, the dishes always stacking this side of the sink, then the other, framing all the prayers.

Picnik collage

This baby we love, she struggles to breathe, life this thread, and we keep making soup to feed the family while doctors order tests and we cling to the lifeline of His will.

And these kids we’re raising, they keep falling down, and parenting’s this way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up because we know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him.

And then there’s this fear beast that I thought I’d already wrestled down, skinned, hung and mounted, and it’s the thing that breathes again ugly and close and it’s strange how knots in the pit of the stomach can try to undo everything.

For the life of me? I can’t get it all right. And heaven and earth both know I am a miserable mess away from perfect and this is exactly why, when you keep falling short that you’re bruised knees just have to bend at the table of communion, and say, yes, please.

I need Jesus.

I need His life.

I need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all the broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.

I need the table of communion because this is how the dictionary defines a celebrant: A celebrant is one who stands at the table of Communion.

A celebrant celebrates the extravagant grace of Christ.

A celebrant is the one keeping her eyes on Jesus and His perfect sacrifice — precisely because she isn’t perfect.

The sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!

Christ invites us to celebrate the full life as the celebrants — not because we’ve got it all together, but because He’s finished it all at the Cross!

The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right — but about receiving Grace.

Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life, than we are the celebrants out dancing in a wild rain of grace — because when it’s all done and finished, all is well, and Christ already said it was finished.

In a thousand ways, we can be celebrants of life and thank Him for Cross grace and God in the Moment grace, daily grace and saving grace, common grace and Christ-through-all-things grace!

And this could be the full living: make every moment communion with Him, be the celebrant and let a celebration of Grace inhabit the days; let God open the hands, lift the arms and make me a praise, a rising incense, a certain song.

Aren’t all the worshippers celebrants? When should we stop worshipping? Or celebrating?

Grace is sufficient, amazing, and for everyone imperfect.

I wipe off the messy counters, cup my hand at counter’s edge for whatever comes, and then turn towards the table already set.

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Post and Photos by messy, grace-celebrating Ann Voskamp @ A Holy Experience

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{PsstYou right there – you are not alone. We’re a whole beach house of women with imperfect lives, celebrating His Grace. Have you clicked over to the Bloom Book Club to read the Friday guest posts by women in the middle of hard times, finding grace and joy enough — right where they are.

Last Friday Beth shared her poignant journey, and today Maribeth invites us into what’s radically changing her life, even in the midst of deep grief. When we count graces, we discover Who we can count on. And in Him we can always celebrate anyways–  because He is in all ways. Come celebrate His Grace with us?}

Q4U:

How is life feeling a bit messy for you right now?

Are you finding it hard to receive Grace? Give Grace?

Grace = celebrating the full life. So what do you think — how can you practice the art of being a celebrant of Grace, right where you are?

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  • Pingback: The Art of Celebrating a Messy Life Anyways » A Holy Experience()

  • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura@Life Overseas

    Beautiful post, Ann. And I loved, loved, loved this line (and truth)–

    “I need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all the broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.”

    It’s hard to embrace the mess, the broken. We want to fight it so. hard. Like my toddler who refuses to just let it go, I am like that so often– I don’t want to let my expectations go. And so I stomp and pout and complain. And I refuse Grace for me, for them, for him.

    Thanks for the reminder to embrace the mosaic.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Ah, yes, how I *know*… Embracing His grace with you, Laura — that we may pour His Good News wherever we go…

  • http://briebarton.blogspot.com/ brie.

    such incredible and indelible truth. gracious thanks.

  • http://www.fingerprintsfromhishand.webs.com JD

    I’m struggling this dark morning with my to-do list. It’s not yet 6 am, and it’s already got its talons in me. I think of you, Ann, and how fear grips you. I, too, struggle with that, particularly in the form of anxiety. Oh, girlie, I was thinking of you as I was gripping the steering wheel knuckle-white on a certain bended bridge of a highway. I know those behind me and beside me thought I had lost my mind; I had. It was all I could do to hug the blessed line to get me safely over the curve.

    But back to the list. The list that ever grows and never shrinks. It’s a strange comfort to me. I would rather hide in it than to go seek some fun with my kids. It has a very strong grasp on me, even in just my thoughts. An idol I must somehow tear down, turn from, lay down. I know the key to start lies in recognizing this grace you speak so eloquently of. I must realize the real to-do list is indeed done. It is finished. It is complete. I must realize that True Life isn’t dependent upon my to-do list and check marks. True Life is waiting for me in the hearts that beat in my home. Will I be daring enough to step out of my comfort zone and see what lies beyond the list?

    Thanks as always, Ann, and know I’m right there with you in the depths of fear.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      JD… you express it so eloquently — an idol of the list. And this “True Life is waiting for me in the hearts that beat in my home.” Thank you for such gentle truth.

      Is it that when we write out a 1000 Gift List we exalt Him and destroy the idol of the to-do list?

      God used your words to deeply minister to me, JD — -thank you.

  • Lisa H

    How is life messy right now and am I able to receive and give Grace?

    I’m just in a funk, have been for a few weeks. We have had a lot of death in our church since Christmas. All ages very young to very old. Some expected, some sudden and tragic. Two of our church staff members. Two of the sudden and tragic hit the same family, 1st their 27 yr. old daughter. Three weeks later her Father, from a massive heart attack while working in our church. I’m tired of death. I’ve not been very close to these families that have been hit, but it has me thrown for a loop. Then after going to the last funeral on Wednesday I received a call that one of my Uncles has been placed in hospice and they don’t expect him to live more than a couple of days. Again. Death. I’m tired of death. I am taking my mind to places that are not good for me–I’m heading down Why God Trail and How do I get out of this place Road? They are not good roads for me to go down. I’ve never dealt with death. I always hid my true feelings about it when it has happened in my life. It was the stoic thing to do. But it was never one right after the other and there is no stoicism left in me. I’m just sad and scared it will happen in my family–and it is.

    I am not receiving much Grace because I am closing off to people and its a struggle right now to keep my nose in the Bible and keep hoping things will turn around. There has to be praise in this somewhere. So if I am not receiving Grace then I am not giving Grace very easily either.

    Life is messy is something I have been learning over the years. I’m also learning He loves me in spite of my messiness. I’m clinging to that right now.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Dearest Lisa…
      I am clinging to Jesus with you…
      Sitting with you in prayer right now.

      I so understand, Lisa. As the death of my sister is my first memory, death has *terrified* me all my life. Gently God has been whispering to me that I really can trust: He’s conquered death and “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:26 We look forward to forever with Him.

      I am so grateful you opened to us and together we can be with you in the messiness, and we aren’t alone, Jesus with us all.

      Praying now, Lisa…
      Ann

      • Lisa H

        Thanks Ann

    • Sarah

      Praying for you right now, Lisa. What a hard season. I’m praying that grace seeps through in unlikely places, that you’ll hear Him rejoicing over you with singing in unusual ways. I’m so sorry for the losses surrounding you; He is your shelter in this storm. I pray He will ground you in peace and encourage you so clearly.

  • http://ifmeadowsspeak.blogspot.com/ Tammy@If Meadows Speak

    Ah, Ann, we are beautifully imperfect messes. If we weren’t this, then who’d need Christ. And it’s the very sufficiency of Grace which enables us to withstand our own weaknesses, because His power is perfected in them. We are beautifully imperfect….and messy, and at times soul-ill with failure, and it’s those times, Christ’s power can rest on us. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

  • http://ifmeadowsspeak.blogspot.com/ Tammy@If Meadows Speak

    ps. Perhaps if I didn’t know I was mess….then I’d also know less about Grace. I’m so very glad, we have Him to run too. Ann, I’m praying for you this week….that the dove of Grace rest on you and for you to be in His strong tower…. :)

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Ah, Tammy! He is a strong tower and in His presence is fullness of Joy! And I only need to remember to stay in Him!

      You are a gift…

  • Linda

    Thanks for the reminder to celebrate grace. I need that for some of the challenges I am faced with right now.

  • amy

    Ann, Just discovering your book and enjoying every word. I find it so challenging. It seems that seeing beauty would be so easy and making a 1000 could be done in a day. What I’m discovering, like you, is that I throw a blanket of thanks on everything but somewhere along the way stopped noticing anything. To me, now, this is the gift. I can ask forgiveness and ask for new eyes, His eyes. I’m so thankful for you because I am the blessed mother of a toddler who notices and loves absolutely everything and now I can be more attentive to the wonder of everything and join in her daily fun. As I begin my list, I don’t want to be new age about it, and I am feeling flat and a bit fake. When does that change? Like I said I need new eyes.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Dearest Amy… ah, your toddler seeing the world with eyes of surprise and joy! The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these :) Counting blessings is a way to write our thank -you note directly to God, to thank our Jehovah Jireh for all the ways He faithfully provides. Isn’t He so good to us, Amy?

      Praising with you, friend!

      • amy

        Ann, You respond to everyone. How wonderful and how much work. But I will take advantage and ask you one thing. As we are asked to thank Him for everything, as He is everything, creates everything… what are we to do when we encounter evil like murder. We can say thank you for taking this mess and using it for your glory, but we can’t say God is in the evil. This is a sticking point for me somehow. Does this make sense?

        • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

          Dearest Amy… Yes. Exactly. I have wrestled hard with just this. Lord willing, I’ll post about this in my quiet corner of the internet on Wednesday? Because your question is mine, struggling through the hard things… Grateful for you, Amy…

          All’s grace,
          Ann

  • Jill

    Yes I am finding it hard to accept Grace right now…
    I want to
    I want to rest in Him and accept this place where I am…
    Yesterday was a good day, the best in a while….
    I wanted that again today.
    I made a plan
    But I can’t do it today
    disappoint them, disappoint myself…
    and yet –
    I see now
    I am not disappointing Him
    He knows. He is with me,
    I accept that He is in charge of this journey
    So here I am from the start to the end of this note
    going from unaccepting His Grace to welcoming it
    Thank-you God
    Thank-you Ann

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Thank you, God…
      for so loving ((Jill))…

  • Dea

    “There is always a well.” Hagar she found herself in a mess didn’t she, out there having totally forgotten the promises God had made to her the last time she was sent to the wilderness. Oh, the God Who Sees, open our eyes to the well—- open our hands to dip into the Fountain of Life.

    Can’t imagine what got me to thinking on these things??? :)

    Praying for you, Ann, full of grace, and for those who need to see right now.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      :)
      Dea? I so needed that! :)
      *Thank you*!

  • valerie condron

    I am such a perfectionist and am discovering that it is such an idol…myself. I am making a choice each day to renounce the idols I am aware of and asking for grace to be sufficient. But I have not been a grace giver as late and struggle to change that…maybe just acknowledging it will help. How very wonderful to have discovered this site and your book…for which I am waiting for it to arrive. As women, we can gain such strength from each other…thank you for the strength I see as you all lean on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Valerie? Yep. You are so not alone. We’re right there with you — leaning on the Jesus, the perfecter alone. Thank you, friend…

  • http://ggirod.wordpress.com Gloria

    “In a thousand ways, we can be celebrants of life and thank Him for Cross grace and God in the Moment grace, daily grace and saving grace, common grace and Christ-through-all-things grace!”
    this rang loudly in my spirit today. It has been a rough week dealing with some ugly situations and it can be so easy to remain focused on all of that and then I found your blog through another pastor’s wife blog. God had it all planned.
    Walking in Grace! thank you

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Praying for you right now, Gloria…

  • http://kendalprivette.blogspot.com kendal

    i love guessing the writer before i get to the bottom. nailed it today, ann! i’m praying for that niece of yours. and i hate when i believe i’ve mounted that beast on a wall in the woodshop and then it rears its head – great analogy. my eating disorder and grief and depression are ALL slinking around again this week. reciting my memory verses over and over and over. hoping something will click. will stick. and i can walk again.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Oh Kendall… that slinking beast. You and me both, sister. We’ll take captive every thought and make it obedient to Him and fight that beast with the Truth of Grace and His Word. I am pausing now to pray for us both, Kendal… He has us firmly in His grip.

  • http://www.eatdrinkandbejesus.blogspot.com Ida Mundell

    Thank you, Ann, for reminding me that it’s okay to not have it all just right, just so….

    “The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right — but about receiving Grace.”

    Have a lovely weekend!

  • http://jsmcfadden@wordpress.com Jeri

    Randall Jarrell’s “Well Water” —
    What a girl called “the dailiness of life”
    (Adding an errand to your errand, Saying,
    “Since you’re up …” Making you a means to
    A means to a means to) is well water
    Pumped from an old well at the bottom of the world.
    The pump you pump the water from is rusty
    And hard to move and absurd, a squirrel-wheel
    A sick squirrel turns slowly, through the sunny
    Inexorable hours. And yet sometimes
    The wheel turns of its own weight, the rusty
    Pump pumps over your sweating face the clear
    Water; cold, so cold! you cup your hands
    And gulp from them the dailiness of life.

    I read this in The Vintage Book of American Poetry, 2nd edition, but it was published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in 1969 in his Collected Poems.

  • http://www.imperfectpeople.net Katie @ Imperfect People

    Beautifully written. He is made perfect in our weakness. I have a whole blog about that but you said it perfectly!

  • http://www.findtheflametofan.blogspot.com Abby

    ‘And this could be the full living: make every moment communion with Him, be the celebrant and let a celebration of Grace inhabit the days; let God open the hands, lift the arms and make me a praise, a rising incense, a certain song.’

    it’s always hard to pick what sticks out with you, Ann, because everything does:) but i especially loved this ‘certain song’…what a wonder to live like this and yet, ours, because the work IS done…

    i thought too of the feast that the Father prepares for the Prodigal…’we had to celebrate’ that i’ve meditated on these past few months through tim keller’s sermon on this part of the story, at one point saying, if we really understood that Jesus is preparing a welcome Home feast, one day, forever then we really wouldn’t freak out about…anything…

    i keep falling and yet a picture so clear to pull me up is sinking deep down into this heart.

    praying for you and yours…always, always praying:)

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Oh Abby — This: “If we really understood that Jesus is preparing a welcome Home feast, one day, forever then we really wouldn’t freak out about…anything…” Amen!

      (I’m going to go look up Mr. Keller’s sermon :)

      Your words are a grace and encouragement, friend…

      All’s grace,
      Ann

  • http://www.jonahmicahayla.blogspot.com Emily

    Thank you Ann!

    My messiness: Anger, lack of patience & self-control and forgiving myself and accepting His grace poured over every imperfection and moving on, trusting in my “God who sees me”, to fully redeem my life through the power of Christ, the power of this eucharisteo, communion with the Most High God…

    I LOVE this: “Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life, than we are the celebrants out dancing in a wild rain of grace — because when it’s all done and finished, all is well, and Christ already said it was finished.”

    I’m believing this today! Praying for you and thanking God for you Ann!! Blessings!

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Oh, believing with you, Emily… believing He is sufficient! Amen!
      :)

  • all shall be well

    Praying for your little niece and your whole family.

    I guess I have unconsciously thought I have to be perfect to receive grace, as in relationships in my family that is how it has been/is, just the way we have always been. A wonderful reminder for me to receive, as well as give.
    Thank you! karen

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Karen… I have thought exactly that too. And Jesus whispers Hope, Love, Saving Grace.
      Blessing, Karen… all His blessings.

  • http://jealous-hands.blogspot.com Christi {Jealous Hands}

    Ann, sweet Ann – thank you. I am struggling with receiving and giving, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in these last couple of days. I have long “known” how Christ saves, but have not remembered it in my bones. I have read your book, and am reading it again, and I am counting, though I have been a skeptic.

    Thank you Ann, for being brave, and being full of Grace.

  • http://www.itsgrace.com Erin @ It’s Grace

    Ann, this was beautiful. I just picked up your book at Costco this week. I’m not that far into it, but I really enjoy it.

    I’m praying for your sweet baby niece..

    • Lelia

      How is little Ema? Oh, I will go to Costco~ (Mother’s day is coming. . . . )

  • http://sandraheskaking.com Sandra Heska King

    What I love about you, Ann, is that you don’t scoop the mess and hide it in the cupboard. You let it spill, and scoop, and offer–and in the spilling and the scooping and the offering, we can be free to be messy, too–knowing we can all wallow in Grace together. Without the dirt we wouldn’t need the rain.

    Praying for the sweet babe today. And you.

  • http://www.onedaycloserblog.com Amy (One Day Closer)

    I am praying for you Ann… and praying for Ema… and your beautiful family.

    God has used you to rock the world. Satan will want to test you, I’m sure he is lunging on his leash. Just remember Who holds the other end!

    Sending hugs and hugs upon hugs – dear friend!
    (keep writing through it and I won’t worry as much {grin})

  • http://www.thegypsymama.com Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama

    Oh you’re speaking my language – dancing in the rain. Love you, Voskamp.

  • http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/ Kara

    I love this post Ann…thank you…
    It’s real life…clinging to our real God…who is right there with you even when you’re feeling crushed and alone.

    Two weeks ago I posted “Life is Messy: I am Messy” because I think there’s something healthy about expecting the mess that comes along with life….and with me.
    http://thechuppies.blogspot.com/2011/02/life-is-messy-i-am-messy.html

  • http://www.tenheartbeatsblessings.blogspot.com Karen Melnychuk

    …isn’t a mosaic just a random collection of various “bits”?
    How appropriate then that I should be reminded…
    “I need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all the broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.”
    …the broken messes of my insecurities, my perceived shortcomings, my “daily grind” of raising eight beautiful children that stretch me….sometimes beyond what I think I can bear!
    Ann, as usual you convict me where I’m at and remind me that “my bits” when placed together , knit together the way only God can, is a beautiful testament to His Grace!!
    I will remember to give thanks today ….. eucharisteo ….. I am LOVED!
    Praying for your precious niece

  • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

    We have had sickness since Christmas–it’s such a change for us because we are always so healthy (thank You, Lord). And so everything has been sort of off. But it has been, in it’s own way, filled with Peace, too, because there has been so much time to simply be still.

    Praying for your niece.

  • http://amberrobinson.com Amber

    Thank you for this:

    “For the life of me? I can’t get it all right. And heaven and earth both know I am a miserable mess away from perfect and this is exactly why, when you keep falling short that you’re bruised knees just have to bend at the table of communion, and say, yes, please.”

    Just last night as I was drifting off to sleep I mentioned to my hubby that I feel that I am memorizing Proverbs 18 about the tongue and no matter how much I come to Jesus and am filled up with him I still feel like I can’t get this right. It was a good reminder today that I am doing what I need to – bending, receiving, coming to him everyday for help. And to keep coming and not give up.

  • http://insertgracehere.com Rena

    Such an amazing post! A timely post. I, too, am struggling hard this morning. Determined to press through to gratitude. I covet your prayers.

  • http://www.kathycheek.com Kathy Cheek

    I love the title you used for this post, the word Art made me think of the work in progress our lives are in God’s hands, and I could envision a painter long before the finished painting gleams from the artist’s canvas. It looks kind of messy when the artist first begins to spill the colors on the canvas, but in his eye he sees something beautiful, and he wants us to see it to.

  • Frances

    I definitely don’t have it all together today.

    So this was encouraging! Thank you!

    “The sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!”

  • http://www.kellysauer.com/ Kelly Sauer

    I love you, Ann. That is all.

    • Leila

      That is all. . . She overwhelms me with all her wisdom. It is surrendered love, and His doing in her.

  • http://www.momssharpeningmoms.com Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms

    I just put one foot in front of the other, moving through the good and hard parts and rejoicing in His mercies anew and promises always kept. And His countless gifts! :)

    Love you so much…

  • http://www.jesusofnazareth-alovestory.com Virginia

    BEAUTIFUL and real! Thank you so much, lovely Ann! I did not know about the baby as I am just getting to know you a wee bit ~ I will put her…and you on my daily prayer list, precious sister ~

  • http://www.anniewilcox.blogspot.com Annie

    By the grace of god we are present for daily trials, triumphs, and tribulations. Somedays just getting the dinner on the table is grace for me.

  • http://holley.dayspring.com Holley Gerth

    Ann, I love all of you, beautiful, messy, glorious you. We are in this together for good.

    • Leila

      :) Messy and Glorious really sums her up~! . <3 Joy is reading all these posts, both the confessions and the requests for prayers, knowing many sister in Christ are bending their knee and pouring out their hearts before His Throne of Grace.

  • http://www.tulipgirl1979.blogspot.com Katie

    I’m learning to go with the flow these days allowing my heart, mind and spirit to flow with the music everyday plays rather than attempting to go against it. That means maybe we spend our time getting messier than cleaning. My heart is happier as I tidy at the end of the day when I see the pile of blocks and remember the fun we had stacking them or how creative my daughter is as I scrape play doh off the floor. I struggle with the unachievable desire to have order and structure and picture perfect everything. I guess I just remember the cliche that reminds me life is about the journey not an unattainable destination I create in my mind.

  • http://www.redletterbelievers.com David Rupet

    We are the ones who need a doctor.
    fix me!
    http://www.RedLetterBelievers.com
    “Salt and Light”

  • http://rumohr6.blogspot.com Cari Rumohr

    I don’t know how to receive grace or give it! I’ve got 60 gifts and yet I don’t feel it touching down deep like y’all seem to get. I just feel like it is this common list. I can do lists, I can make ‘em and check ‘em off but I don’t know how to let them penetrate. I don’t know how to intimately know God loving me or anyone else for that matter. I don’t know what that is all about. I do know that it makes me miserable and I don’t even want to think about what it is doing to my family.

    • Karen

      don’t stop….you haven’t hit 1000 yet…..try just slowing down….. keep counting….it is a long distance run, not a sprint.

      • Karen

        Cari,

        I keep coming back to your comment and the ache found there. If you want to “talk” through it, you can email me at 4onepurpose@swissmail.org. I would willingly journey with you.

        • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

          Dearest Cari… Karen…
          Thank you for Karen for loving — ah, the love of God shown through His people, us in community, members of Christ caring for one another. *Thank you*….

          Cari, your honesty and transparency is a grace, and I am praying today, right now, that God gently, tenderly reveals Himself and His love for you personally and deeply. Oh, I hear you, Cari — how it feels when we don’t feel God’s love or anyone else’s. Why is accepting love sometimes the hardest of all? Please know today how I am carrying you in prayer, Cari, Jesus carrying you close to His heart.

          Praying for Cari and Karen….
          Thank you for the privilege…
          Ann

  • http://myownsenseandsensibility.blogspot.com/ Mindy B

    OH Ann. Water from the well for me…”Regardless of the mess of your life, if Christ is Lord of your life, than we are the celebrants out dancing in a wild rain of grace — because when it’s all done and finished, all is well, and Christ already said it was finished.”

    My mess has been wretched, gaudy this week. I blame hormone and thyroid. But…But I know it’s all me. I used to think it was my expectation of others around me to be perfect. Now, through my husbands wisdom, I am realizing that I am beating myself up and frustrated because I want to be perfect, have the perfect response, look perfect. I want to be someone I am not, Michele Duggar. I am celebrating being me today. I may actually get out in the rain and dance!

  • Kristen

    Just found your website. I so needed this inspiration today. His Grace is suffiecient. I’m going home to laugh, draw, play, dance….BE with my children and to embrace my messy life. Blessings Ann.

  • Karen

    no matter what….Jesus IS enough…..but it is so hard to wrap our brains around.

  • http://www.blessed-not-stressed.com Dana Susan Beasley

    My constant mantra to myself is I have nothing and AM nothing without Jesus!

  • http://www.stumblingaroundinthelight.com Teri Miller

    Oh, Ann. Fear’s grip is so tight, so consuming. Shaping me, conforming me, into the sharp corners of it’s prison.
    There are moments of clarity; breaths of free air, that I gulp in greedily, and see with new eyes the limitless blue sky of trust and faith and grace.
    And then.
    And then he is wheeled away from me again, scarred, cut, stitched, bruised, for yet another procedure, another surgery. I pray and beg. I breath slow, intent against fear’s possession. Knowing not the outcome, there is gushing relief from God’s Presence, and Hope crowds out the hungry prison-of-fear.
    For now.
    For now he rests fitfully before me, and there are two more sutured wounds, to make seven, and he is well. for now.
    And fear is but a degree-of-fever away.
    And Hope is here with us.

    I thank God for you, Ann; for allowing Him to speak thru you, filling my family with renewed gratitude, making space for Hope in our lives.
    Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

  • http://www.momof6blessings.blogspot.com Teena Price

    oh Ann… always pointing us to Jesus. Have sat back this week and read your words, listened to the interview… so very thankful for you in my life. Words spoken for years always pointing me to God. Guess what I am on 923 on my 1000 list. Yes…. has changed my life.. I sit here as I am typing on my laptop. We had lunch with old friends and afterwards the kids begged me to take them to the river landing. I sit here tping out words to you as they throw rocks into the river. The wind is blowing, sun shining…. and I am so very thankful for His grace….

    I love you, Ann.

  • Bernice Shupe

    Speak about messes! Christopher (my oldest of seven sons) was about to leave for MS and went to check on his house they moved from a year ago and were hoping to rent for the winter. He had not checked it for a month. Water was gushing out the front door! A pipe had broken in the cold! $30,000. damage! Christian firm came in estimating damage for insurance and are drying it out with fans. They will repair it all! They found the mess! God is good! They are now on their way to Angelique’s aunt’s funeral. Will find out next Thursday what messes Aaron found in the Bush in Guinea, West Africa! Know he extended God’s grace to the native Muslims! God bless you my dear, dear friend! Sending love! He will keep holding you close to His heart! He has made you His special vessel to the world! Keep giving Him praise for making you YOU! :)

  • Sandra

    I absolutely love watching this ministry in motion. Confession, standing beside, bowing down, lifting up, keeping things honest and real. Beautiful. Powerful. Magestic. Graceful.

  • Beckee

    Ann……I feel like I have found a new friend in you. Just finished your book and have started reading it again. Your writing speaks to me in a way that I have never before experienced. Thank you for sharing the real you……for ministering to my heart…..for the idea of 1000 gifts. I’m at 102……:-)

    Your blogs are BEAUTIFUL…..your photographs grab my heart.

    I can hardly wait to open my emails to see if you have posted anything new.

    God bless you…..you are ministering to countless number of women.

    Beckee

  • http://www.lifegrounds.blogspot.com Debbie Millman

    My two sisters and I have started reading your book together. Two of us in Wisconsin and one of us in Florida….I just know it will make the miles seem closer. We all three have our own messiness we’re walking through right now and God is using your words to give us grace for the journey. My current mess is very financial and requires me to work these crazy 60 hour weeks. I am so weary. I sometimes feel I could collapse under the weight of it…the schedule, the budget, the jobs. But today, I sensed his peace. In the middle of many needs and details at work, an afternoon unexpectedly opened up for me with no clients. I got to light a candle at my desk, turn on my i-pod lamp with some amazing worship music (love that Jesus Culture!), and happily work away catching up on all I was getting behind in. The phone even barely rang! So thankful for His grace and how He knows just when we need it. Need Him. Thanks for your labor of love in the sacrifice it took to write your book and what it must take to keep this blog going…..

  • http://canvaschild.blogspot.com in the hush of the moon

    ann of greenest gables…

    i love you.

    praying, for this struggling infant-life, for us struggling mothers, for all of him in between…

    emily of new moon.

  • http://www.sixbrickshigh.com Jamie @ Six Bricks High

    I know His grace is for me. It is like a big pool of water right before my eyes. But I have a hard time jumping in. Oh sometimes I dip my feet in, just enough to feel the refreshing goodness. But I hold back from jumping in and completely immersing myself. Why is it so hard to allow my heart His grace that my head knows is for me?

    Absolutely loved this!

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  • Lana

    Thank you, Ann, for speaking to my heart every day through your posts…love your beautiful pictures….I had my precious granddaughter, Anna, here this week and I took a picture of her sweet piggies in the afternoon sunlight! What fun!
    Ann, I have some serious messiness in my life and so hard some days it is find hope & grace of any kind. I am on # 76 in my list of 1000 things and realize how great our God is. I know your time is precious but i want to tell you about my pain. My daughter left her marriage of 10 years to a wonderful man for a much younger GIRL! My daughter is 38 and the girl is 22. Our family was blind-sided by this…..she has two beautiful daughters, ages 8 and 4. One day they will have to be told what the truth here is. I worry constantly and help her financially as much as possible. This is one rough journey…….. Your book has made me really think about what is really important. If you have one minute for me, I’d like to know what you would say about this mess we are in. Is there hope? Will my grand babies be alright? Will they come out scarred from their mommy’s choices??? What do I do? Such pain attached to what she has done. I love her to death. She is my baby girl…bright, loving and beautiful but off the track…..

    So hard to celebrate my life right now and I am retired…a time that should be enjoyed to the fullest.

    You are a gift, Ann,
    Lana

  • http://www.ordinarilyextraordinary.com/ Amy Nabors

    “The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right — but about receiving Grace.” How I love this Ann. So true. We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to accept his grace. Thank you for sharing these words. A much needed reminder for me.

  • Ruth Hollands

    Oh Ann, Thank you so much for sharing. My babies are in their 20s now, but this week we are having to support one of them who’s struggling with deep depression due to events that could have been handled differently and another with other concerns. Relying on Jesus for the grace and wisdom that I need is the only way that I have made it so far. Cos I have to admit it that fear monster has been doing its best to get its tentacles around my heart…. Yet I am looking for His gifts in the mess… even though it is a bit of a challenge to find them at times….

  • susan

    Thank you Ann
    I have bee trying to get hold of your book via my local bookshop, with great difficulty, I try to support them when I can. Your daily words are inspirational and I am blessed to have stumbled across you by accident? no, I think it was not by chance!
    I live in the U K , and when I read your words, so beautiful and so true, they are a great reminder of who God is, and just how much He loves us, and this world He has created. I love your photos, and I feel part of your life, and thank you to those sisters in Christ whose comments I read and digest, God bless you all….Susan

  • Terri

    “And these kids we’re raising, they keep falling down, and parenting’s this way of bending over in humility to help the scraped child up because we know it takes a lifetime to learn how to walk with Him.”

    As a momma of two young adults, I needed to be reminded, yet again, of this truth. Thank you!

    And thank you for reminding us over and over again that all truly is grace. :)

  • Sharon O

    Ann I truly believe you are a messenger from God to awaken the hearts of many. We sit so often complacent and dull to all that is around us and yet when you write and you share we experience LIFE and Living and hope and healing and the journey continues through your encouragement and example. Someday… I want to meet you. Someday I want to thank you in person. Blessings be upon you as you minister to many.

  • Lisa W

    Ann:

    Talk about messes and grace! Oh, my!

    I HAVE seen God’s grace in the mess of my life, in quite dramatic ways in recent days. You see, He rescued me from an addiction to alcohol this past fall, saw me through the imminent destruction of my marriage, and through situations and seeking, has restored my genuine faith and passion for Christ.

    I was trapped in the pit of lukewarm-ness, and then suddenly, I wasn’t even lukewarm anymore….my faith had gone cold and I felt overwhelmed and scared that I was lost forever, and moreover, I felt I couldn’t care enough to run back to Him…..the chains of overwhelm imprisoning me. Overwhelmed about: my penchant for sin and worldliness, the mess I had made of my life, how I had failed as a mother and the bitter fruit that I see growing on those trees.

    I am, at this very moment, amazed at my passion for Christ, swimming in His grace. At the same time, I am praying fervently for my college-age daughter who is lost, confused, bitter at God, and spiritually searching in all the wrong places. And THEN, she calls this weekend crying and says she wants to abandon her spring break plans and come home, because she misses us! Overjoyed, I am! But frightened beyond belief as well….for I KNOW that my intercession and her change of plans are NO COINCIDENCE! The Holy Spirit is whispering to her, and she finds no rest in the New Age prison which she sees as freeing. She doesn’t even KNOW that God is compelling her home….that is how lost she is right now.

    And I have NO idea what to say, how to say it, or if I should say anything. I am in constant prayer for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and prompting.

    Please pray for me, Ann, and for my sweet Mary Kathryn. I finally ordered your book and it will be here on Wednesday! I just love you and your heart for the Lord!

  • http://www.100yearsago.blogspot.com Alicia

    My, oh my. My heart laughed when I read your question… “How is life feeling a bit messy for you right now?” Ha! One messy day to the next. For one: my house is actually a mess. Not that I prefer it that way, but two: since the beginning of January, my family of six has been sick. Pick any two+ at any given time and there you’ll find, a cold, the flu, a sinus infection… earaches, fevers, not to mention teething. Coughs, headaches, body aches and chills. 2 am baths and again at 5. My husband works eight days straight with four days off, so even as I am fighting off bronchitis, I am the sole charge. (hence #1: the messy house) Three: We are supposed to be in between jobs right now, but they asked Husband to stay for another month… Just great. We do need the money, but I’m quite sure we need time with him more. The reason we quite in the first place. (God and His timing!) For four: We are renovating a house right now that is not livable in any stretch of the imagination, but will have to be “home” by the last day of his employment anyway. So we are working like mad dogs, in between his eight day shifts to put in a bathroom and kitchen and remove doors and put in doors and patch lath and plaster walls that are cracked to the hilt and floors that need refinishing but if that’s not a mess in itself, etc… I recently started a blog documenting our renovation and how God is getting us through and I found your blog. Your words of wisdom have been completely life changing to me. I am a yeller, freak-outer, loose cannon of a mother and wife (probably the messiest part about now) when I am stretched beyond normal functioning. Praise the Lord, Ann, He brought your insight to my door when I needed it most. I don’t get it right even 50% of the time, but at least I’m doing better for my family more often. Accepting God’s grace in my unlovely moments… actually thinking about that… “Wow. That was ugly… but God and His love.” makes it so much easier to extend that grace into my current mess.

  • Peggy

    A Holy Experience, the website was given to me by a friend in early February of this year. My life parallels Ann’s in a few ways. I homeschooled my 5 children; I live in a very rural area in Montana and yes my husband is a farmer, with thick rough hands.
    I ordered “One Thousand Gifts” and while waiting for it, read the first chapter on line. The following Sunday I shared what I was understanding, with my Sunday school class of 8 – 10 year olds and had them write down 10 things that they were thankful for. They so understood what I was trying to get across to them that many of them wrote 30 things in a very short period of time. Ann’s book is reaching into the far corners.
    I began my own list and it wasn’t long before I was tested to see if it was real to me. It is…
    We got word that our prodigal son had died of a heroin overdose on the 21st of February. He was 26 years old. Our hearts are grieved… again. We suffered the grief of his leaving several years ago when he wondered into an illegal lifestyle so foreign to us, but as long as he was alive there was hope.
    We aren’t angry, we don’t ask “why”, we’ve been through hard things before; the loss of our 2 year old grandson to cancer, the loss of another child at age 24.
    And my gift list grows…
    Yesterday it was a down comforter sent to me by thoughtful friends – when I so needed comfort… for melting ice sickles into little rivers….for the sun shining through the gray clouds and bare branches into my bedroom window.
    And it will continue to grow. We are strong in the Gift Giver. He loves us more than we can comprehend.
    Our hope now is for our youngest son who has walked away from the God who so loves him. He spent 2 tours in the Iraq war as a Marine and has come home broken – emotionally.
    This is my area of struggle and questions. I have a hard time placing him into God’s hands and leaving him there. I have the maternal need to fix him.
    I can’t even understand his pain, let alone fix him.
    I could bandage a stub or nurse a flesh wound, but this seems so far away.
    And his brother’s death seamed to be the blow too big for him.
    His anger is violent. As Ann said in her book, “He wears his anger to cover his sadness.”
    …and I am thankful he is here. That God does understand this pain and wants to heal it. That He has a plan for this pain and a purpose for this struggle.
    We are all trying to force our way out of the cocoon of this “human experience”.
    Thank you Ann, for your book, and for God’s perfect timing in getting it to me. These websites are a lifeline. The Bible is my life blood. God is my very breath.

  • http://www.mommytoluke2.blogspot.com Crystal

    My daily mess: 2 little boys… who leave a trail of crumbs… sticky finger prints… toys…

    But the deeper, much greater, mess is inside. I fear. Fear is my prison. But reading One Thousand Gifts and putting it into practice is helping. Slowly, though there are days when I feel like I’m still sinking. I have some medical things going on which magnify fear. And I desperately want another baby (after a miscarriage in Nov of last year)… but the health issues are holding that back for now. Many days I am torn. Wanting to trust, but finding it easier to just cling to anxious. It is a battle. But I’m fighting!

  • http://embracinglife-rose.blogspot.com Rose

    “I need Jesus.”

    That one statement resonated so strongly with me. This is a beautifully written post, thank you for sharing it with us. I’m praying for you and your family during this hard time.

  • Lelia

    So many loving sisters and so many prayers I will jot down. Peggy, you are being faithful, and staying enmeshed in His Word, will bring you true peace. I pray you have a group in your Church body who are there for you. The son you raised to fight for my freedoms is on my grateful list of gifts. (I have 2 boys in ROTC)
    Thanks for this post, Ann and Incourage. And, for all who share and open their hearts.

  • Anonymous

    The fear beast continues to chase me as well. Our baby, 8 days old. He is such a blessing. But the fears, the worries, the post partum, the feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and just…failure…haunt me. My heart burns at times and other times I am just fine. My boys, they know that mama isn’t 100%. My husband tells me over and over that I am a wonderful mother and his wife, chosen by God for him and that no matter if I can’t fully breastfeed, our son will love me. I am not a failure. But the tears still come, the struggle with getting out still comes and the lack of motivation to just do ANYTHING stays.

    So, I get up, kiss the boys off to school, start a load of laundry, plan a trip to the store and continue to nurse because we need that bond, even if its not enough and we have to give formula. I fight back the sadness and step out of my comfort zone and confess to my friends that with our 2nd child, I struggled long and hard and alone with PPD. With anxiety. With lonliness. Because i was ashamed. This time, I choose to reach out, to ask them to reach out . To not be alone. To fight back harder. Because I WAS chosen by God to raise these 3, to be the wife to a wonderful man, both of us riddled with weakness and sin but together we fight. Because I am.not.alone. I keep telling myself that. God is carrying me through.

    I pre-ordered your book and have been waiting to read it for some reason. I think I’ve been saving the inspiration and encouragement for now.

    Thank you Ann

  • Rani

    I need the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who can take all the broken messes and make them into mosaics of Grace.

    Wonder how often I refuse His grace to *clean* up a mess. Instead, of living in that moment and finding the grace in the mess. By refusing His grace in that moment, I also refuse it for my children, for my family…and I need His grace. And, I’m back at square one…feeling like I’ve failed. Like I can never do the right thing at this moment in time….I need to learn to live in this moment before anything else. And, that is so very very hard…especially for a mother of three younglings.

  • amy

    Ann, I love you more and more each day as your words go deep and I’m learning more and more about God’s grace. How wonderful and how thankful I am for you. I’m struggling with decisions I’ve made specifically marrying a man who is not a Christian. I am happily married, though very much lonely, unable to share the most important/only part of me that matters. I worry consistently about his salvation. I made this decision in full rebellion, choosing my will instead of God’s will. I’ve carried deep guilt and regret because of this for many years. My struggle is this … how to see God’s grace in my mistakes. How to see God’s grace in an unsaved husband or unsaved family members?

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  • Julie

    Amazing… Love this blog post. My favorite line is: The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right — but about receiving Grace.

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